CMA Awards 2018

Swedish Pop Upstart Frida Sundemo Talks 'Retro-Futurist' Aesthetic, James Corden & Debut LP: New Face, Fresh Style

Linnea Sundemo
Frida Sundemo

Meet Frida Sundemo. The Swedish pop songstress first caught hype with her debut LP Dear, Let It Out, released exclusively in Japan back in 2010, and which spawned the hit "Towers."

After two one-off EPs, Sundemo's profile reached global heights when she made her Hollywood debut with a leading role in the big screen adaptation of John Niven's Kill Your Friends, alongside Nicholas Hoult and Carpool Karaoke funnyman James Corden. In the film, the multi-talented star fronted the fictional collective The Lazies, where she performed her own single "Heroes" and two additional tracks on the soundtrack.

Now after inking a deal with Cosmos Music, Frida is readying the release of her international debut LP Flashbacks & Futures, due Oct 6. Inspired by all things celestial, the set showcases the newcomer's penchant for icy, ornate synth pop, with an eye towards the stars.

"I love the way I feel when my mind is set on space. It’s like I enter this place beyond time where you’re free to create whatever you like," Sundemo reflects. "Second, I’m struck by the beauty of it. You’d never need a filter to make a photo of outer space to pop. I’m also in love with all kind of sci-fi movies taking place in space. Everything from 2001: A Space Odyssey to The Martian or Interstellar.”

Below, Billboard caught up with Frida to discuss how this sci-fi sonic aesthetic informs her style, what to expect on her debut LP, and more.​

Describe your style in 3 words.
Retro-futuristic, monochrome, androgynous.

How does your style reflect your music?
I describe my music as ’cinematic electronic pop’ where big epic soundscapes meet tiny and fragile elements. I think you could find that mix in my style too - the big and bold vs the minimalistic. 



Favorite piece to wear on stage while performing and why?
An oversized black jacket, with painted patterns of silver on the back, that I found in a little vintage shop in east London last year a few hours before a show. It gives me power.


What's your off-duty look like and how is that different from your on-stage look?
I love wearing worn-out, oversized, long-sleeved vintage t-shirts when I’m private Frida. And hoodies are my guilty pleasure. (I’ve got too many of them!). But I can surprise on a weekday too and put something crazy on - it depends on my mood. I love wearing unexpected things. When I’m on-stage, I try to fully merge with this world of art I’ve created, and how I look is obviously helping out with that.
 
Favorite and least favorite trend and why?
(laughs) I must admit that I know nothing about trends. At least at a conscious level, but sometimes my sister educates me! I want to think I’m not that anxious about trends, though. I trust my gut feeling.

What's one thing you never feel complete without wearing?
My ears. When I was a kid I wanted to hide them since they’re quite prominent but now I see them as my super power and wouldn’t feel complete without them!

Prepping your new LP release - how does it feel to be almost to album launch? 
I’m super excited! It’s really special releasing a full length album since it lets you share a full picture of your creative world instead of just a couple of radio edits of the singles. I’m looking forward to letting it go, watching the little bird leaving its nest (and hopefully get wings!).



What was the inspiration behind the album art?
I see my artist project as a 3D world, where the dimensions are music, visuals and message. They all play important roles and they all go well together. Me and my partner in crime, Joel Humlén, have created this world together and we have a very distinct picture of it. It’s really nice to have this world to go back to every time I question how something should look like. And the more things we create, the higher resolution this world gets. 

Our influences are space, sci-fi movies, minimalistic architecture, timeless design and all shades of white color. There’s a bunch of great people helping out on the way too. Art director Petorovsky has been a great speaking partner for the concept. Photographer (and my sister) Linnea Sundemo is editing the photos, giving them that futuristic, sharp look. And most recently, the 3D animator David Holmedal, helped us animating the album artwork. 

Who are some of your favorite designers to wear?
I love Rodebjer and ACNE. But the favorite pieces in my own wardrobe were found in vintage shops and aren’t designer’s clothes.

Go-to make-up - what's your favorite feature to play up and what's your favorite product to use?
I love to make my eyebrows rule my face. I love them big and sharp. When it comes to products I can’t live without Dermalogica’s skin hydrating masque. It’s more important to me than specific make up products. 

You're coming to NYC for some show -- what are you most excited for with visiting and performing in the city?
I’m really excited about doing a show called ’Give A Home’. It’s a collaboration between Amnesty and Sofar Sounds and they organize intimate shows in hundreds of living rooms all around the world to support refugees. Also, I haven’t been in NYC since 2011 so I feel like a have a lot of foods to catch up on. Can’t wait to put myself in the lovely hands of Yelp.



You made your film debut in 2015's Kill Your Friends - any plans to do more acting/appearances in film/tv?
I absolutely loved that experience. It was really awesome getting thrown into a world that I knew nothing about and I fully enjoyed every moment of it. I’m not chasing new film opportunities, though. Music is my passion, and when I feel like I need a pause from that I wanna finish my medicine studies and try that path. With that said - I love getting into unexpected situations so you never know if I’ve said my last line in a movie (laughs).

You've earned a number of synchs as well - what was your favorite placement of one of your songs to soundtrack a scene in tv/film? Why?
Since I’m half a doctor, I loved the placement in Grey’s anatomy. And it was a pretty emotional scene too. 

Anything else you'd like to mention?
I encourage everyone to eat less meat! And to support Sunderland AFC. 

For more Frida Sundemo, head here.